A quality farm bill

Americans should not accept substandard agricultural policies.

by Daily Editorial Board

As most college students know, procrastination never pays off. House Speaker John Boehner, responding to questions about a farm bill and food stamps, told reporters “we’ll get to that later” in early July. The rest of Congress had a similar mindset.

Three months later, in midst of a federal government shutdown, lawmakers are still negotiating various proposals for a farm bill that, if signed into law, would go into effect several days or more after its deadline has passed.

Because there was no farm bill extension passed by Oct. 1, the permanent agricultural policies passed in the 1949 farm bill will take effect, policies that were crafted for a farming industry radically different than the one we have today.

While a farm bill may not seem very pressing as the country faces a government shutdown and a possible default, it’s important to understand how cobbled together agricultural policies can affect everything from the economic livelihood of Midwestern farmers to the price of dairy products at the grocery store.

There’s a lot at stake in a farm bill, and lawmakers are pulled in many directions by lobbyists and constituents looking to benefit from federal subsidies. Fervor surrounding talks was exacerbated this year when House Republicans passed a Farm Bill without food stamp funding, signaling their intent to make significant cuts in the anti-hunger program.

With so little progress in our nation’s Capitol, there’s a strong tendency for voters to accept any thrown-together farm bill that does not implement necessary reforms or sufficiently fund the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Our elected officials are fully capable of working out a deal to end the shutdown while passing a satisfactory farm bill. It will do the country no good if we accept anything less.